The Sauk Valley has two swimmers left after the preliminary round of the state meet on Friday at New Trier High School in Winnetka.
Sterling's Keanu Interone and Dixon's Aaron Helander, who swims for the Byron coop, both moved on to today's finals that begin at 1 p.m. The top 12 times in each event make the finals.
Newman junior Warren Melton and Sterling sophomore Cade Coursey also competed, but were unable to crack the top 12.
Interone entered the day with the second seed in 100 breaststroke, after recording a time of 56.98 seconds at the United Township Sectional last Saturday. He was also one of the favorites in the event after finishing runner-up a year ago.
Interone improved his time by tapping the wall in 56.84 seconds. He did drop to fifth in the standings going into Saturday's finals. The top time was recorded by Metea Valley's Matt Salerno at 56.16.
The top six swimmers compete in the championship heat in the finals. Interone will be in that heat, but will have to swim in one of the outside lanes. Most swimmers prefer the inside lanes.
Kyle Aerne, of Lakes High School, came in with the top seed in the event, but dropped to sixth with a time of 57.09.
Helander, who has qualified for state all 4 years in high school, came into the day seeded in the top 12 in both the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.
In the 100 butterfly, he was seeded 10th after a sectional time of 51.73. On Friday, he bettered that time by more than a second at 50.49. That was good enough to tie him for 11th with Neuqua Valley's Drew Dvorchak. Mundelein's Connor Black has the top time at 47.20.
Helander just missed the cut in the 100 backstroke. His time of 51.56 was just 4 hundredths of a second behind the 12th position time of 51.52 by Macomb's Anthony Blome.
Melton improved on his sectional time of 1:44.10 in the 200 freestyle. He touched the wall in 1:44.04 in the preliminaries, placing him in 26th.
Melton was just under 3 seconds off the cut time for the top 12. Peoria Notre Dame's Jared Schimmelpfenning was 12th in 1:41.46. New Trier's Reed Malone had the top preliminary time at 1:35.60. The time broke the state meet record of 1:37.24 set by Kevin Overholt of Neuqua Valley in 2009.
Sterling sophomore diver Cade Coursey had hoped to jump up the field from his 47th seed from sectional into the top 25. Coursey score of 137.90 was good enough to move him up the field, but not quite as far as he had hoped as he placed 43rd. Normal U-High's Brandis Heffner leads the competition with a score of 325.75.
100 breaststroke: 5. Keanu Interone, Sterling 56.84
100 butterfly :11. Aaron Helander, Dixon (Byron coop) 50.49
100 backstroke: 13. Helander, Dixon 51.56
200 freestyle: 26. Warren Melton, Newman 1:44.04
Diving: 43. Cade Coursey, Sterling 137.90